Unofficial Oral Proposal Guide
Guidance Governing Oral Proposals
Very little guidance exists on using oral proposals. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) citation governing orals is straightforward and easy to implement, and as of this writing, the supplements don’t cover it at all.
Before utilizing orals for your sole source or source selection, do check any applicable supplements or policies that your organization must abide by.
The FAR language is included below, in full:
- Oral presentations by offerors as requested by the Government may substitute for, or augment, written information. Use of oral presentations as a substitute for portions of a proposal can be effective in streamlining the source selection process. Oral presentations may occur at any time in the acquisition process, and are subject to the same restrictions as written information, regarding timing (see 208) and content (see 15.306). Oral presentations provide an opportunity for dialogue among the parties. Pre-recorded videotaped presentations that lack real-time interactive dialogue are not considered oral presentations for the purposes of this section, although they may be included in offeror submissions, when appropriate.
- The solicitation may require each offeror to submit part of its proposal through oral presentations. However, representations and certifications shall be submitted as required in the FAR provisions at 204-8(d) or 52.212-3(b), and a signed offer sheet (including any exceptions to the Government’s terms and conditions) shall be submitted in writing.
- Information pertaining to areas such as an offeror’s capability, past performance, work plans or approaches, staffing resources, transition plans, or sample tasks (or other types of tests) may be suitable for oral presentations. In deciding what information to obtain through an oral presentation, consider the following:
- The Government’s ability to adequately evaluate the information;
- The need to incorporate any information into the resultant contract;
- The impact on the efficiency of the acquisition; and
- The impact (including cost) on small businesses. In considering the costs of oral presentations, contracting officers should also consider alternatives to on-site oral presentations (g., teleconferencing, video teleconferencing).
- When oral presentations are required, the solicitation shall provide offerors with sufficient information to prepare them. Accordingly, the solicitation may describe –
- The types of information to be presented orally and the associated evaluation factors that will be used;
- The qualifications for personnel that will be required to provide the oral presentation(s);
- The requirements for, and any limitations and/or prohibitions on, the use of written material or other media to supplement the oral presentations;
- The location, date, and time for the oral presentations;
- The restrictions governing the time permitted for each oral presentation; and
- The scope and content of exchanges that may occur between the Government’s participants and the offeror’s representatives as part of the oral presentations, including whether or not discussions (see 306(d)) will be permitted during oral presentations.
- The contracting officer shall maintain a record of oral presentations to document what the Government relied upon in making the source selection decision. The method and level of detail of the record (g., videotaping, audio tape recording, written record, Government notes, copies of offeror briefing slides or presentation notes) shall be at the discretion of the source selection authority. A copy of the record placed in the file may be provided to the offeror.
- When an oral presentation includes information that the parties intend to include in the contract as material terms or conditions, the information shall be put in writing. Incorporation by reference of oral statements is not permitted.
- If, during an oral presentation, the Government conducts discussions (see 306(d)), the Government must comply with 15.306 and 15.307.
That’s it. Simple, right? You have quite a bit of flexibility without any restrictive supplementation on top of it.
Although very little guidance, formal or informal, exists within the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security’s Procurement Innovation Lab (PIL) offers a chapter on oral presentations in its PIL Boot Camp workbook. The PIL guidance is a little different from my experiences, but I recommend it, both for that chapter and others.
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